Borlaug fellow completes sweet potato project

Johnny Morgan  |  4/30/2019 4:27:34 PM

(04/30/19) BATON ROUGE, La. — A participant in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Borlaug Fellowship Program spent 14 weeks working in an LSU AgCenter laboratory to develop higher-quality sweet potatoes for developing countries.

Veronica Mosquera, a research assistant at the International Potato Center in Peru, has been mapping the gene markers in sweet potatoes for performance under drought conditions.

Niranjan Baisakh, an AgCenter plant molecular biologist and geneticist, served as Mosquera’s mentor while she was at AgCenter.

She started on the project on Jan. 20 and returned to Peru on April 27.

On April 26, Mosquera gave a presentation on her time at LSU. The presentation included a summary of her lab work, her preliminary results and her intentions for the future.

Jonathan Hubchen, assistant director of the AgCenter Global Network, said there is a two-stage process for bringing in fellows.

“The first step includes recruiting the fellows, and the second stage is when the host institutions are identified, which occurs in late May,” he said.

Mosquera said she has been working in the field of potato breeding for the past six years.

Baisakh, who has been working with Borlaug fellows since 2010, said they help with his research programs.

“This is a great pleasure to have someone come from a developing country to work in our lab and to take the knowledge back to their country,” he said.

Baisakh said three months is not enough time to complete a research project, but it provides training on different protocols, procedures and methods that are involved in the research process.

“We looked into genetic profiles of different progenies using two varieties of sweet potatoes that have contrasting drought-response phenotypes,” Baisakh said. “We don’t have conclusions from the research, but we do have some clues as to what’s working.”

Baisakh plans to visit Mosquera in Peru sometime next year to see how her work is progressing.

The AgCenter has hosted nearly 40 fellows in the past 12 years, with about a third of them working in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, Hubchen said.

Borlaug Fellow looking at sweet potato gene-markers on computer.JPG thumbnail

The LSU AgCenter’s latest Borlaug fellow, Veronica Mosquera, a research assistant at the International Potato Center in Peru, explains findings of her research while Jonathan Hubchen, assistant director of the AgCenter Global Network, left, and Niranjan Baisakh, an AgCenter plant molecular biologist and geneticist, look on. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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